Julian Agyeman

  College: Van Mildert
  Subject: Geography and Botany      
  Class of: 1980
  Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Your Durham Inspiration

Do you remember why you first chose to study at Durham?

I was inspired to study at Durham because I was really into nature, the environment and David Bellamy was at Durham. At that time he was in high demand on TV so was at Durham very little. I did get to take a class on mire ecosystems with him in 1979.

Tell us about any sports, societies or clubs you were involved in at Durham.

I was a member of Van Mildert Rowing Club and The Africa Society.

What work or moment were you were most proud of at Durham?

Graduation. Marching into The Castle on June 25th 1980 during a freak hailstorm!

What are your fondest memories from your time here?

Too many to recall. The long-lasting friendships, walks along the river, great social life.

How has Durham inspired you to get to where you are today?

Durham gave me an excellent foundational knowledge of natural systems especially. It inspired me to go on to get an MA in Conservation Policy, and a PhD in Urban Studies


What have you been up to since you left Durham?

I started out teaching geography at high school, then becoming an environmental education adviser in London. After my PhD I came to the US as a full time academic

What are you doing that is most meaningful to you now?

I’m a Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, in the Boston metro area. I’m most proud of working with my graduate students (we call them ‘Practical Visionaries’) who want to help cities become more just and sustainable.

Is there anything from Durham that has stayed with you and still inspires you now?

I was greatly inspired by my mentors in both the Geography and (what was then!) Botany Departments. They made time for inquisitive minds like mine. In many ways, I’m ‘paying it forward’ with my students

Tell us about your latest news or developments.

As an academic, I publish widely, both books and articles. I’m a journal editor, active on several advisory boards and the author or editor of 12 books, which you can see from my weblink below. I’ve just been invited to be TD Walter Bean Visiting Professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada (2020-21) and in 2018, I was awarded the Athena City Accolade by KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, for my "outstanding contribution to the field of social justice and ecological sustainability, environmental policy and planning".

Personal interests

Time outside work is split between family duties, working out, watching tennis and trying to read for pleasure

Pass It On

What would be your top piece of advice for current students and/or recent graduates?

Is there anything that you know now that you wish you’d known when graduating?

Top advice? Follow your dreams. You really can get to where you want to be. What do I wish I’d known? How long neoliberalism was going to last from its inception in the late 1970s, early 1980s!

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